Bariatric Surgery FAQ's What is "morbid obesity" or "clinically severe" obesity? Morbid obesity and clinically severe obesity are medically defined conditions. Obesity is measured by comparing a person’s weight to their size in a term called Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI is measured by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in meters squared) BMI calculator. Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI of 40. Persons with diseases associated with obesity like high blood pressure, diabetes, degenerative arthritis, and sleep apnea and a BMI of more than 35 are considered to have clinically severe obesity. A BMI of 40 usually corresponds to being 100 pounds overweight. WVU Health Report: Bariatric Surgery and Diabetes What are the qualifications for this procedure? You must be at least 100 pounds over your ideal weight and be able to document other weight loss programs that you have tried, but failed, including at least one medically supervised weight loss program. In addition, a psychologist and a nutritionist will evaluate you. How safe is bariatric surgery? As with all types of major abdominal surgery, there is a chance of post-operative complications. Complications may include (but are not limited to) cardiac arrhythmia, pulmonary embolism, or wound infection. Your surgeon will discuss possible complications and risks with you. However, bariatric surgery is proven to be safe and effective with minimal overall complications. What non-surgical complications are associated with bariatric surgery? Some common complications are hair loss, vomiting, intolerance of some foods, mineral deficiency, or stomach ulcer development. Most of these complications can be resolved or avoided by good nutrition and careful eating. Your surgeon has a sound pre-surgical medical plan and comprehensive post-surgical follow-up plan that minimizes the risk of these complications. How long does the surgery take? The average length of surgery for the bypass is about 1 hour. A lap band takes about 30 minutes to complete. Can I ever lose too much weight? It is very unlikely for patients to lose too much weight. Occasionally, patients can develop a stricture (outlet obstruction) within the first few weeks after surgery. This is easily correctable. Blood work to screen for vitamin deficiencies is conducted on a regular basis to ensure that patients are well nourished and their needs are being met. From the time I am seen in the office, how long before I will have the surgery? In general, after the initial consultation in the office, it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to have the surgery. Once we have gathered the information that we need, we send a letter to your insurance company for pre-approval for the procedure. Once obtained, you would then undergo an in-depth history and physical examination as well as some laboratory tests and x-rays. Once those are done, provided there are no additional or unexpected medical problems that would require treatment first, we would schedule your operation. How long is the hospital stay for a bariatric operation? The average length of stay for a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy is 2 nights. If you have a lap band placed, you will typically be in the hospital for one night. How long would I be off work after bariatric surgery? In general, you can return to work within 4 to 6 weeks of having the operation. How much food can be eaten after surgery? The food intake is limited to 1 or 2 ounces per scheduled meal immediately after surgery so that the stomach can heal properly. Later, the quantity of food that can be eaten increases. At its maximum capacity, about 6 months after surgery, the pouch holds between 4 to 8 ounces of food. How quickly does a person lose weight after the surgery? Patients generally lose 60 to 85 % of their excess weight within the first year after surgery. After that, weight loss continues until about 18 months post-surgery when the patient usually achieves his/her goal weight. If you exercise, attend support groups and eat healthy foods, your weight loss from bariatric surgery can be significantly greater. Can I become pregnant after having the surgery? Women of childbearing age should avoid pregnancy for 1 year after surgery because rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus. If you should become pregnant, you will need to carefully watch your dietary program to make sure you and your baby are well nourished.